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Tanguy de La Forest Para-tir

Portrait of Tanguy de La Forest, a para-shooting champion sponsored by the Caisse d'Epargne Ile-de-France via the Performance Pact

The older I get, the more I progress.” The veteran of the French shooting para sport team looks back over his career and shares the experience he has gained in his professional life and in his work with nonprofit associations.

Tanguy de La Forest, the oldest member of the French shooting para sport team, has taken part in every set of Paralympic Games since Athens 2004. He was vice world champion in the individual rifle shooting event in 2006 and world champion in the team events in 2006 and 2018. This 43-year-old veteran recently competed in the European Rifle Championships and won a bronze medal in the individual competition and the title of European champion in the 10m standing team event. He is also a successful entrepreneur and serves as general secretary of the French Paralympic & Sports Committee.  In this interview he looks back over his eventful career.

How did you get into para-shooting?

I discovered shooting at a fair when I was seven years old. I won the competition and was immediately hooked. This love at first sight was certainly due, in part, to the fact that I won despite my disability. This was important because I loved sport and shooting enabled me to pursue my passion. In a sense, the sport chose me as much as I chose it! I went on to join a club in Rennes – the city where I lived at that time – called the Du Guesclin club where I competed with able-bodied shooters. I loved it because there were lots of young people… and I started to get good results.  

What attracted you about this discipline?

First of all, it enabled me to practice a sport accessible to a person with my disability, a genetic neuromuscular disorder: infantile spinal muscular atrophy. I was able to walk until I was ten but I’ve been confined to an electric wheelchair since then. And I can't carry more than 500 grams. There are two categories in rifle shooting: one for shooters with impaired upper limbs and the other for shooters with a lower limb impairment. The former use a shooting stand with a spring to support the weight of the rifle but not to hold it. This is my class... When I was young, I used to shoot with the rifle resting on a cushion.  At 14, I joined the club in Laval (north-west France) where I discovered para-shooting. I stayed there until 1998 before moving to Paris to study for a postgraduate degree in marketing and where I’d been invited to join a club...

You then took your first steps at a high level...

I won several junior French parasport championships before joining the French national team in 1997, of which I’ve been a member ever since... That’s how I took part in my first Paralympic Games in 2004, followed by Beijing, London, and Rio in 2016 where I obtained two 4th places and, most recently, in Tokyo last summer where I finished in 5th place three times. So I’m looking forward to finally winning a medal in Paris in 2024!

And at the same time you’ve pursued an intense professional career...

That’s true. I worked for the PSA Group in marketing until 2009 but, while still working for PSA, I set up a recruitment agency with my sister in 2006 specialized in hiring disabled people, graduates for the most part. The firm currently employs a staff of seven. In 2010, I took over the company founded by my father specializing in communication by objects and employing about twelve people. At the same time I have my commitments in the nonprofit sector via the French Paralympic and Sports Committee in my capacity as Secretary General… as well as being a member of the Board of Paris 2024...

You’re sponsored by the Caisse d'Epargne Ile-de-France. How does this help you?

The partnership with the Caisse d'Epargne Ile-de-France removes a lot of the stress from the preparation process by financing my equipment, by paying my travelling expenses in France as well as those of the person accompanying me when this expense isn’t already covered. What’s more, the fact of being supported by a company and all its employees encourages me to constantly improve my performance.

Have you ever thought of stopping your sporting career in view of all these different activities?

I put my career on pause for a year but I missed the high-level competitions...

What did you miss exactly?

The defeats, the victories, the emotions of high-level sport, the competition… as well as the challenge of striving for ever greater perfection and even better results. Even if I’m extremely busy in other aspects of my life, I felt a huge void. And the sport brings me a certain physical equilibrium and prevents my disorder from progressing... It produces a real physiological benefit... The doctor responsible for me in the hospital in Garches near Paris has already observed when making comparisons with people having the same type of disability as mine... they can find things more difficult...

Paradoxically, shooting is a highly physical sport...

The effort made by the brain to achieve maximum concentration requires a lot of energy. Everyone practicing sports that call for immense concentration come away from a competition completely exhausted. And it’s a sport where nothing is certain. You can be a world champion and find yourself eliminated very early on in the competition.  

What’s amazing about you is that the older you get, the better your results become...

It’s true. If you look at my results in the Paralympics, they get better with each Olympiad. Experience in competitions certainly counts, the ability to manage stress as well… but it’s also because I put in more training than before. This is due to the fact that we joined the French Shooting Federation in 2017. Since then, we’ve become more professional. We went from one national training course and one competition per year to one training course per month and an international competition every two months. Last but not least, I still feel that same burning passion...

With Groupe BPCE, the Caisse d'Epargne is a Premium Partner of the Olympic & Paralympic Games Paris 2024. Supporting and accompanying confirmed and aspiring high-level French athletes and para-athletes is a major ambition shared by all the Group's different companies and employees.

Click here to read the interviews with:

Cédric Fèvre

Gaëlle Edon

"We share the same flame"

  • Sport
  • Corporate philanthopy and partnership
  • Caisse d'Epargne